Driver to customer ratings are an über good idea

Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim

Whether it’s directed towards your friends, family, or community, doesn’t the act of giving back make you feel all warm and happy? App-based transport company Uber utilizes an innovative means of giving back to users — although what’s being given has elicited mixed feelings from recipients.

Like many other companies, Uber lends clients an ear by requesting that they rate their experience on a five-star scale. However, this ridesharing service bears two proverbial ears, and it offers the second to its partner drivers, who rate passengers in the same manner.

Yes, that’s right: Lady Karma has acquired a taste for ritzy smartphones and riding shotgun, and she’s quickly laid down the law. While courtesy will net five stars and your drivers’ blessings, cringeworthy conduct might lead to retribution.

Drivers see your average rating, and if it’s low, they’re less inclined to accept pickup requests. Low averages can even lead to suspension from the app, just as low-rated partners risk dismissal. While the concept (and consequences) of drivers rating passengers are off-putting for some, I’d say turnabout is long-overdue fair play.

Now, I’m sure many clients have legitimate complaints; God forbid you be denied the aux cord. But to allow users to make or break their drivers with a few taps on a screen is only fair if the reverse holds true as well — after all, the former party is equally capable of atrocious behaviour and should be equally accountable.

Lady Karma has acquired a taste for riding shotgun, and she’s quickly laid down the law.

Considering how passengers treat drivers sometimes, I’m surprised that letting the former speak out isn’t the norm. Many clients take advantage of ‘always being right’ to bully and harass employees over the smallest things — heck, there are online communities and discussion forums dedicated to relating horror stories of unreasonable passengers. Surely protecting your associates is just as important as protecting your customers?

Besides, even some well-meaning passengers need a wakeup call regarding etiquette. Learning to refrain from being late to meet your driver, leaving your trash in their car, et cetera, isn’t just great for expediting travel and staying in Uber’s good books; it’s also, well, common courtesy that people in general will appreciate. Paying someone for service in this case doesn’t negate their right to be shown basic manners.

Of course, many have criticized the system, particularly taxicab associations. The Florida Taxicab Association labels it “discriminatory,” with board member Roger Chapin questioning how drivers rate “poor tippers, an elderly person who requires more assistance, someone who regularly needs a short trip to the doctor,” or “someone whom the driver may just not like the way they look?’’

Frankly, that’s a risk no matter who’s awarding stars. Should passengers stop rating drivers too? For that matter, what makes Uber’s ratings more problematic than other entities? Shall we outlaw literary critics as well?

If we condemn Uber on that basis, then forget the next election; we need to pour taxpayer dollars into a countrywide revolution, outlawing Yelp and burning issues of Rolling Stone. The future is now.

Personally? I vote we skip that crusade. All Uber seems to aim for is a kinder atmosphere between driver and passenger. I genuinely doubt minding your manners for a half hour is too much to handle, and if you can do that, you should have nothing to fear from a simple rating.